Billabong boosted by court ruling in legal fight with former Indonesian distributor

Surfwear giant Billabong says a ruling by the Queensland Supreme Court will boost its defence in a long-running legal battle against a former licensee in Indonesia.

The company is being sued by former distributer CV Bali Balance, run by Sydney entrepreneur Suzi Burk Suwenda. She is seeking $168 million in damages after Billabong terminated her distribution license.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court in Queensland ruled Billabong had done nothing wrong in cancelling the license. While this has no legal bearing on the Bali case, the company said in a statement it intends to use the ruling as part of its defense.

“The Supreme Court’s ruling reinforces Billabong’s view that, on the legal advice it has received, its own internal investigations in Indonesia and in Australia, and given the testimony of its staff, that there is absolutely no basis whatsoever for CV Bali Balance’s Indonesian claim,” the company said.

Billabong awarded the license in the early 1990s to surfing veteran Wayan Suwenda. He became the face of Billabong in Bali for over a decade, but following his death in 2005, the distribution license was cancelled.

Wayan Suwenda’s wife, Suzi Suwenda, said she then only agreed “under duress” to Billabong’s plan to distribute the products itself.

The legal action in Denpasar is still ongoing, with Billabong facing several legal challenges regarding the legality of its decision to cancel the licenses. The company argues the cancellations were part of a worldwide effort to buy them all back worldwide.

Earlier this year, Billabong said in a statement the $168 million damages claim was out of proportion.

“It is not possible that CVBB could have incurred any loss remotely like what it now claims, even if the termination was invalid, which Billabong denies,” it said. “Billabong believes, on the basis of the legal advice it has received, that there is absolutely no basis whatsoever for CVBB’s civil claim.”

“In Billabong’s view, the civil claim is simply a tactical litigation in Indonesia to attempt to influence the settlement discussions which are ongoing between Billabong and CVBB.”

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